Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 6, 2022

Fed minutes reflect support for faster rate hikes, GM unveils its fully electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup, and more

1

Fed minutes show support for faster rate hikes to fight inflation

Federal Reserve officials last month discussed speeding up their timetable for raising interest rates, with the first hike coming as soon as March, according to minutes of Fed policymakers' Dec. 14-15 meeting that were released Wednesday. The minutes indicated that Fed leaders believed that the quicker pace could be justified to fight high inflation now that the job market is strong enough that lower rates are no longer needed. Some officials at the central bank also supported cutting the Fed's $8.76 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets after the interest rate increases start. Fed officials said in projections released after the meeting that they expected three quarter-percent rate increases in 2022.

2

GM unveils fully electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup

General Motors on Wednesday unveiled its fully electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The announcement presented a new challenge to EV powerhouse Tesla, and sent GM's stock rising. Ford revealed a day earlier that demand for its F-150 Lightning electric pickups had jumped. GM's full-size electric Silverado is intended to go 400 miles on a full charge. A Work Truck version designed for fleet buyers will be priced at $39,900. It is expected to go on sale in spring 2023. The fully loaded RST First Edition model will cost $105,000, and be available in fall 2023. Both versions will get 100 miles of range in 10 minutes with a DC fast charger.

3

White House says fresh COVID stimulus under discussion

The White House said Wednesday that it is continuing to talk with members of Congress and others about the possibility of another round of stimulus funding to address fallout from the latest coronavirus surge. Recent economic data indicates that the economy is doing well, with private payrolls increasing, holiday sales strong, and supply chain bottlenecks easing. But economists warn that spiking COVID-19 cases, driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, have started to dent economic activity. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told CNN a bipartisan group is looking into whether Congress can provide aid to restaurants and other industries expected to be hit hard by the latest COVID-19 wave, although no formal deal has been proposed.

4

Stock futures mixed after Wednesday's selloff

U.S. stock futures were mixed early Thursday after the three main U.S. stock indexes fell sharply Wednesday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial average were up by 0.2 percent at 6:45 a.m. ET. S&P 500 futures were flat, while those for the Nasdaq were down by 0.3 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by 1.1 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, on Wednesday in their first day of losses in the new year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq plunged by 3.3 percent, as growth stocks took the hardest hit after Federal Reserve minutes revealed that the central bank was preparing to speed up interest rate hikes to counter high inflation.

5

WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS weigh possible CW Network sale

AT&T's WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are considering selling the CW Network, which they jointly own, and could reach a deal soon, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night. The potential buyers include Nexstar Media Group, the nation's biggest broadcaster and a large owner of affiliates of the teen-focused network, the people close to the talks told the Journal. WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS reportedly might sell a significant stake, or all of the CW. They have been exploring strategic options for several months. The CW Network is not profitable on its own, but it produces valuable content for the parent companies' other platforms.

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